The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Art

Time writing

Chronograms—literally, “time writing”—are dates embedded within text. As such, they are a form of hidden writing called steganography: the encoded characters maintain their own value, but are hidden within a larger text. Easily calculable to those who know what they’re looking for, they still excite the thrill of uncovering secret meaning. That thrill was experienced by this cataloger when, for the first time ever, she came across a chronogram that had been previously unremarked.… Continue Reading

Dryden’s Virgil, Ogilby’s Virgil, and Aeneas’s nose job

First, a confession: this month’s Crocodile Mystery was originally going to pose a question along the lines of “What’s weird about this image?” or “What makes this picture especially interesting?” but I gave up. I couldn’t figure out how to phrase it in a way that wouldn’t, in fact, be saying “Try to guess what crucial piece of information is being deliberately witheld!” The longer I looked at the image, the stranger it appeared, so I figured asking for captions would make an interesting Crocodile Mystery, and you came through!… Continue Reading

“A triple badge in Coventry ribbon”

When I retrieved Sh.Misc. 1639 from the shelf, I wasn’t sure what to expect from an item described on the catalog card as “Shakespeare Tercentenary Celebration. Mementoes, tickets, programs…” Many of the components turned out to be fairly common–though no less interesting!—pieces of ephemera such as programs, fundraising letters, performance tickets, and even a train schedule. But one item was a little more exciting.… Continue Reading

Don Quixote on an Early Paper Cover

The Folger Shakespeare Library recently acquired a copybook with an intriguing pictorial paper cover, and it is, of course, the subject of the crocodile mystery we posted last week. This cover is made of thick paper (thicker than regular paper but thinner than boards) and is decorated with an engraving depicting Don Quixote mounted on his noble steed Rocinante, accompanied by his faithful servant Sancho Panza.… Continue Reading

Photo-manual illustration

As Jeff and Anthony commented on last week’s Crocodile Mystery, this picture is unusual because it is an engraved portrait copied from a photograph rather than from a drawing or painting. Specifically, it is a steel engraving by George Hollis (1793–1842) based on a daguerreotype by J.E. Mayall (1813–1901), and it depicts Madame [Céline] Celeste (1814–1882) as Princess Katherine in Shakespeare’s Henry V: A comparison of the daguerreotype-based steel engraving with a drawing-based copper engraving of Mrs.… Continue Reading

Q & A: Caroline Duroselle-Melish, Curator of Early Modern Books and Prints

In January, Caroline Duroselle-Melish joined the Folger as the new Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Early Modern Books and Prints, a position that gives her responsibility over books and prints through 1800. She has worked with a wide range of collections in university and independent rare book libraries, including serving as Rare Book Librarian at the University of Rochester and, most recently, as Assistant Curator at the Houghton Library, Harvard University.… Continue Reading

Research round-up: February 2015

The theme of this month’s post, which features two questions regarding 19th-century sources, is “We have materials beyond the early modern period!” As our collection development policy states, in addition to seeking primary source material on English and continental civilization in the early modern period, we also collect materials on “English drama in the eighteenth century” and “Shakespeare-related material to the present.” Hmm, perhaps we should add a tag-line—Folger Shakespeare Library: More than the long 16th century.… Continue Reading

Acquisitions Night: February 5, 2015

Got your tickets yet? Acquisitions Night is just over a week away! This once-a-year event directly supports the growth of the collection by giving people the chance to “adopt” selected items acquired over the past year—that is, reimburse the purchase price to the library so that more material can be purchased. Attend in person to enjoy a buffet dinner, talk with Folger staff, and examine almost one hundred new items with your own eyes (you’re under no obligation to adopt).… Continue Reading

Twelfth Night

What better play to consider on the twelfth night of Christmas than Twelfth Night? Although there are discrepant practices today whether the Feast of the Epiphany—marking the visit of the Three Kings to Bethlehem to worship the Christ child—is celebrated on the 5th of January or the 6th, in Elizabethan England, the Epiphany was celebrated on the 6th. Like other festivities in the season, Twelfth Night was a time of topsy turvy celebrations inverting social order: boys crowned in mock religious processions, heavy drinking and lavish feasts, parody and misrule replacing stern morality.… Continue Reading

Out with the old? The A.L.A. Portrait Index of 1906

To create more work space, we’re starting to sort through the hundreds of “ready reference” books that fill the shelves in the shared staff areas on Deck A, pulling out volumes that really don’t need to be kept that handy. For example,  it’s a safe bet that Art Information and the Internet (How to Find It, How to Use It), written in 1998, won’t be of much help in 2015.… Continue Reading